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    The B’nei Maron

    The dramatic High Holyday poem, Une’tanneh Tokef, written in the Middle Ages and possibly emanating from Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, describes mankind coming before God in single file on the Day of Judgment, like sheep which the shepherd checks over.

    The Hebrew phrase for “like sheep” is kiv’nei maron, which has at least six interpretations, of which “like sheep” (in Aramaic b’nei imrana) is only one interpretation.

    Other views include the following:
    • Soldiers of the House of David (kiv’nei maron is in this view a Hebraised version of the Greek noumeron, a troop): the notion is of a military unit filing before their commander.

    • Soldiers going in single file through the narrow, steep pass of Horon, i.e. Bet Choron, not Bet Maron. This is the view of Resh Lakish in the Talmud. A detailed discussion of Bet Choron is found in the Talmud in Sanhedrin 32b.

    All these and similar interpretations add up to the same thing – every creature being minutely scrutinised by the Almighty, both because He loves each one and because no-one can escape Heavenly attention.

    What calls the people of the world to appear before God is the sound of the shofar.

    A well-known interpretation of the shofar says that the notes start with t’ki’ah, the call to attention; they continue with sh’varim and t’ru’ah, symbolising the fear and trepidation that shakes every individual heart and conscience; and they conclude with another t’ki’ah, as if to say, “March on with God’s blessing!”

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